Like most leaders today, I tend to have a lot on my plate at any given time. That’s not unique and that’s not going to go away — nor do I want it to! Sure there are days I look at the length of my do-to list, and the piles on my desk and it exhausts me. But truth be told, that has far less to do with the quantity of items on my list and far more about the lens with which I am viewing the situation.
As a leader, you have a continuum of responsibilities that range from strategic to tactical . . . from big picture to detail-oriented. To be most effective, you need a different perspective for each of these types of activities. If you apply the perspective needed for a strategic task to a tactical one, or vice versa, the work will feel much harder, it will take longer and the results will be less impactful.
When you are being strategic, you need to have a big-picture perspective.
When a project is strategic, you have to be intentional about surveying the landscape to see trends, points of connection and paths forward that cannot be seen from the ground level. Getting bogged down in details and specifics, the what-ifs and what-abouts, sucks the energy out of the process and makes it both more difficult and, in my experience, less effective.
When you are being tactical you need a focused perspective.
When you have a short-term project to complete, you need to direct your energies to the specific task at hand, the details of what and when and how, blocking out the buzz of everything else. If you try to step back to consider other options or opportunities, you can easily get distracted in such a way that it undermines both your speed and thoroughness in completing the task at hand.
When you shift from a strategic to a tactical activity, you also have the shift perspectives.
This is where it is easy to undermine our own effectiveness. Most leaders toggle between strategic and tactical activities throughout the day. Sometimes, however, we forget to also switch our perspective.
What does that look like? You have a tactical project that needs your focused attention and yet you are still in big picture mode so you scan all that is before you, bouncing attention from one item to the next, and as a result don’t feel like you make progress on anything. Or, you are still in a focused mindset when you need to be thinking long-term, and you find yourself mired in the details and perceived barriers, which drains you of the energy and ability to see a path forward.
Feel like you’re spinning your wheels or running into brick walls?
What’s your perspective?